Arenas are buildings where gladiatorial contests and public exhibitions, such as animal hunts, executions or re-enactments of famous battles, are held for the amusement of the audience. The main layout of an arena is based on ancient Greek and Roman amphitheaters (open semi-circular outdoor theaters), especially the Colosseum. A throne is usually placed inside a special box among the rows of seats at the center of the structure, providing the best view of the arena and where the lord of the castle sits to contemplate the spectacles. Groups of prisoners are periodically taken from the castle's dungeons to these places to meet their untimely death. Legendary creatures, such as the Behemoth or the Minotaur, are kept alive here for such purposes.
There are three basic types of arenas in the series:
- Stages - Those which conform the main layout and structure of a stage.
- Optional areas - Optional areas where the player is put to test.
- Alternate modes - Basic layout for an alternate mode (mainly the game's Boss Rush Mode).
These consist of normal areas in a game which the protagonist must traverse in order to obtain a special item after defeating a boss that will allow further progress. Some examples include the Colosseum from Symphony of the Night and the Arena from Aria of Sorrow.
Sometimes an arena may consist of only one big room in an entire level, where a boss battle is held. Examples include the Castle Center from Castlevania (N64) and Legacy of Darkness, where the player must face a Behemoth, or the last room of the Forest of Jigramunt from Curse of Darkness, where the player must fight against a Minotaur.
These consist of a completely optional and non-canonical area of the game (e.g: the Battle Arena from Circle of the Moon). Not visiting these areas won't affect the progression or outcome of the game's main story in any way. It's worth paying a visit to them, though, as they usually reward the player with big amounts of experience, as the enemies present there are generally stronger versions of their normal game's counterparts. In addition, some unique creatures may inhabit their chambers, who may drop powerful items that can't be found nowhere else.
In these types of arenas, the player is tested with an endurance mode consisting of various subsequent rooms, each one presenting a gradually more dangerous set of enemies. The player is usually presented with a powerful item if they manage to make it all the way to the end.
In some games, arenas conform the basic layout for an alternate mode (mainly the game's Boss Rush Mode) and won't appear in the normal game itself. These modes are usually unlocked to the player once they complete the main storyline or meet a certain criteria. Similar to the "optional areas" mentioned above, they consist of a series of subsequent rooms, this time each inhabited by one of the game's bosses. The player is usually required to make it to the end in the shortest time possible. Depending on the time it took them to complete the challenge, a powerful, and sometimes unique, item may be awarded.
- Castlevania: Rondo of Blood - An Evil Prayer Summons Darkness
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - Colosseum, Reverse Colosseum
- Castlevania (N64) / Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness - Castle Center
- Castlevania: Circle of the Moon - Battle Arena
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow - The Arena
- Castlevania: Curse of Darkness - Forest of Jigramunt
- Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin - Nest of Evil
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 - Storm Arena